Wednesday, October 1, 2003

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It's standard operating procedure to have sources

Want to know more about my latest TNR Online essay? You can see its crude origins in this blog post from August.

The David Brooks quote comes from this August 2000 article for Salon.

The postmortems on planning for Iraq are the du jour topic for the newsweeklies. John Barry and Evan Thomas have more dirt in the Newsweek story (this is where the Powell quote comes from), but Brian Bennett et al have some good stuff in their Time cover story, including the lack of communication on the state of Iraq's electricity grid.

On the Valerie Plame business, I've written a bit about it in recent days. You can access my posts in chronological order, here, here, here, here, here, and here. [Been obsessing a bit, have we?--ed. Look, some people care about the California recall, others about national security.]

For more general reading on Bush's decision-making style, check out this Richard Brookshier essay from the March 2003 Atlantic Monthly. Ryan Lizza's TNR piece from January 2001 is also worth reading, particularly the opening paragraph:

Throughout last year's campaign, George W. Bush described the role of president as akin to that of a corporate CEO--part visionary, part manager, part talent scout. "My job is to set the agenda and tone and framework," Bush wrote in A Charge to Keep, "to lay out the principles by which we operate and make decisions, and then delegate much of the process to [staff members]." Sure enough, as Bush has picked his Cabinet nominees, what began as a campaign strategy to neutralize criticism of his inexperience has become his administration's governing theory. "I'm going to work with every Cabinet member to set a series of goals ... for each area of our government," Bush told reporters at a recent press conference. "I hope the American people realize that a good executive is one that understands how to recruit people and how to delegate." A Bush adviser told The New York Times that the administration would be returning to the model of the 1950s: "Bush is going back to the Eisenhower-type cabinet, where it's more like a board of directors."

For more general reading on bureaucratic politics -- particularly in matters of foreign policy -- the classic source is Graham Allison's Essence of Decision. However, much more pertinent for today's world is Amy Zegart's Flawed By Design: The Evolution of the CIA, JCS, and NSC. [Full disclosure: Zegart and I went to graduate school together]. To see bureaucratic politics as it played out in the Reagan administration, you could do far worse than perusing George Shultz's memoirs, Turmoil and Triumph.

posted by Dan on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM


The lefty wing nuts display their idiocy when they say Chimpski is a moron. Here we see how even in early 2001, he was laying in the foundation of plausible deniability. Sorry Silver Fox, he is Daddy's boy after all!

posted by: occam on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

If Dan's intent is to contrast W's management style with Reagan's, there may be a problem if Dan was a little too young during the 80s. Alexander Haig as Secretary of State was a major loose cannon, behaving as many of W's high-level advisers are alleged to behave here. The whole Plame business is a very, very slim reed to hang policy conclusions on, especially as Wilson and his wife appear to be marginal players in a Republican adminsitration, and perhaps calling in chips in an attempt to enhance their apparent participation in events (this is my explanation for Larry Johnson's performance on The News Hour). Overall, this looks like trying to draw conclusions from statistical noise. W is flawed in some policy areas, but probably least so in military and forein policy.

posted by: John Bruce on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

Zegart's _Flawed by Design_ is even more interesting when compared to Trubowitz' _Defining the National Interest_. Sectional interests explained by the latter seem to underly some of the policy politics explained in the former.

It is also fun to include Mylorie's _Bush vs. the Beltway_ in this. Motivations stand out in better relief.

posted by: Tom Holsinger on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

Wow. Dan, you make the Bush administration sound exactly like the dot-com I worked at from 1999 to 2002.

posted by: Kevin Brennan on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

That's what I get for posting my long comment on the post with the TNR link--all the action is on this thread.

posted by: sp on 10.01.03 at 06:53 PM [permalink]

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